CHAPTER 29: TO OVER COME FEAR

Anders' hand passed slowly across Valerie's face. It hovered as he brought the other to rest against her forehead. She sat still mouth parted as it mimicked speech. He paused, leaving a small glow across Valerie's nose and forehead. Her mumbling ceased and she sat still blinking slowly. She lifted her head to take a look around, her eyes caught Garrett's as he rubbed at his beard.

"Valerie do you remember what happened during the night?" Anders ask as he moved his hand to rest on her shoulder. He watched her move her eyes to the side, avoiding his but staring over his other shoulder. She gave a barely noticeable shake of her head telling him 'no'. "I need you to tell me if something is happening Valerie. I can't help you otherwise."

She turned her head down and began fidgeting. Her head shook again, unsure if she should reveal her seemingly permanent companion.

X-x-x-x-x-x

Anders stood up and walked away to talk with Garrett. I wanted to tell him what had come to me in that nightmare. What it had told me, but that same reason kept my mouth shut.

This was my battle. Mine to fight alone, because it was all in my own mind. I know that, but at the same time it made it all the more frightening. It left me unable to identify reality from my own nightmares.

I lay awake at night staring into the darkness, just waiting on the demon to come back like he said he would. Though he hasn't come since that night. It promised it would, just not when. If it were true there was nothing that could be done. My mind felt foggy from the medicine that Anders had me take, it kept me numb. I was barely able to sit up on my bed, and for a moment I thought about falling back into the soft mattress. When my toes touched the soft plush carpet beside my bed I felt my legs cramp up from the lack of use.

I grit my teeth together, holding back a groan as the pain subsided. The bed gave a quiet creak as I stood and pulled myself with the post at the head of the bed. All along my arms goosebumps formed across my skin, and I felt a crisp chill in the air. The next breath I took in felt like inhaling smoke. The candles beside my bed suddenly were extinguished, leaving me in darkness. I turned to face my open door, the last place light would have came from, to be gone. Replaced by more darkness.

It was quiet in my room, save for my breathing and the blood pumping in my ears. I felt for my bed, and followed it along the wall to my night stand. Searching for the armchair in the corner of the room. Fenris had been there earlier, and had fallen asleep while reading one of Garrett's many books.

A noise caught my ear, something had fallen to the floor. My head turned to where the noise had came from. "Fenris?" I asked the darkness.

No answer. A shiver ran under my skin. More silence only to be interrupted by a voice. It was so muffled I couldn't make out what had been said. I felt around the nightstand, grabbing onto a candle stick. Hot wax dripped onto my fingers causing me to wave the metal and wax object through the air. The candle fell away from it's metal holder and rolled away into the darkness.

A soft glow of red sprung up from across my room. Only to disappear as quickly as it had come. My fingers tightened around the metal. It was then I felt something wet along the palm of my right hand. I had cut myself somehow.

In my moment of distraction I almost missed the voice returning. This time not sounding like it came from the insides of a fish tank.

"You will break, you will fall, you will come to us." I jumped into my night stand, causing it to knock into the wall. "What lengths will you take, to reclaim what you 'lost'."

"You're not real, get out of my head." I stumbled around and my back met wall. I was answered by a laugh as I fumbled around searching for the chair once more. The voice and laugh were familiar, though not the voice I had come accustomed to hearing. It was that man, the one that started this entire situation. "You're not here." I whimpered to myself holding the candle stick closer to myself.

"But my pet, I am." The red glow came back, brighter than the first time. Enough to highlight the silhouette of a man. I could see the contours of his face as he grinned at me from across the room. Half of his body illuminated by the glow of red from the hand he held up. It moved like thick liquid, dripping and pulling itself from his palm. My own palm felt hot, the blood ran down the candle stick dripping onto the floor. Though it felt like it was being forced out, rather than just flow out like it should. "My dear I can make this easy, or not. You can decide." He smirked from the corner of his mouth.

I wanted to taunt him with the threat of the others in the Estate. But somehow he called my bluff before I got to it. "They will not make it in time. You have no one, you are alone."

I shook my head, uncertain what to think. I didn't even know why he was targeting me. "Why are you doing this to me? What have I done to you?"

He gave a nod and smile. "It isn't what you have done to me, per-say it is what you have taken from me. I will have him back, along with my new experiment. Namely yourself." He smacked his lips together as he thought to himself in my silence. "He didn't think I had been watching all this time. You truly had him so off guard."

"What are you talking about?" Why was he being so vague, what did he want, and what experiment was he talking about?

"My dear you wouldn't even remember if I told you. Because you won't be around to know, excuse me you will be around, just not as you are now. If that makes it clear enough." He gave a sigh. "Well I should excuse myself, it would seem like our 'little darling' would like to take over now." In an explosion of red he was gone. No farther word.

I could feel tears brimming at my eyes, but I couldn't cry. The thing had came back, leaping from the darkness in a furry of red and black. I dropped the candle stick to the ground as the demon lunged straight at me. I felt like my heart had stopped as it forced its way down at my stomach. My body gave a lurch as the demon met with it's target, but didn't continue. Instead it was held back by a soft glow that spilled around it, holding it in place. It wasn't held there long before it was forced back into the darkness; the light flickered beside me.

"Hope?" I asked as the light began taking physical form. The spirit looked toward me as I collapsed to the ground on my knees. It stood silently, it's eyes focused on my own. I let out the breath I didn't realize I had held when I broke eye contact with the spirit. I watched as the room around it and myself began to be bathed in a soft blue light. Bringing the room back into full view, the demon glaring at us from the shadows of my closet.

"I can not do much more. I apologize." Hope stared at the closet as I looked to it. "The demon has been with you far to long, growing inside of you, feeding off your torment. It will take all my strength just to trap it within us." As if feeling my confusion Hope stared back at me. "You will not suffer like your friend, and the anguished spirit I once knew."

"Anders?" Hope gave a nod of its head.

"We will both be trapped within you, sealed for the time all becoming one." Hope gave a curl of its upper lip. "If I do not, the demon will attack again only to take over your body and do as it pleases, but I can save you and your mind. I leave you with a warning. Do not give in to despair, do not fall to distress, or I will not be able to save you from what will follow."

"What do you mean?"

Hope sighed. "I can only protect you from the demon if you do not allow it to return. Do not waste my sacrifice mortal. I do not want this demon turning me." The demon crawled from the shadows bringing the darkness back with it, fighting against Hope's light.

"We will always be one!" The demon barked as it through itself at us again. It slammed into my body, making me feel heavy as it and Hope returned my mind and body. I collapsed to the ground gasping for air.

I pushed myself back up leaning against the wall. The cold stone bit into my back, but it was something I didn't mind. I stared off at the door way, watching the light from the hallway flicker brightly. My eyes shut as I gave a sigh, and when I opened them again I was back in my bed. The room lit up by the morning glow of the sun.

Sitting up I ran my hand through my hair. "It was just a dream." I pulled my hand from the tangled mass of my hair to stare down at my palm. A faint pink line sat in the folds of my hand, no blood caked onto it or any sign of anything to worry about. My room was clean, the candles on my nightstand all sitting where they should have been, and a faint trail of smoke floating around them as though they had just been put out.

"Ah you're awake. Here I brought you something to eat." I tore my gaze from the candles to find Solona pushing the door open with her hip, and carrying a small tray with a plate of food and water.

"Good morning, Solona." I spoke as I pulled the tray closer to myself after she sat it down. I ate quickly, my body craving the food before me. The mage woman stood off to the side sipping on her own glass of water.

"I can see you're feeling lively today." I stopped eating to stare back at her with a mouth full of tomatos and bread. She gave a grin and a roll of her eyes. "Anders will be happy to hear."

I swallowed my mouth full of food. She gave a sigh sitting into the chair closing her eyes and resting her head onto the back of the chair.

"To much has been going on the last month." She groaned out as she crossed her legs. "Some good news will help him."

"Where is he?" I ask. Solona looked to the window.

"The Clinic as usual. Not resting a moment for himself." She gave the window a hard stare. "I guess it makes him happy so, who am I to tell him no."

I was fast to agree with her, there was no changing his mind set. If only more people were like him in this world then maybe all of the horrible things going on wouldn't happen. Solona and I finished off our breakfast in silence.

"I'll go tell Anders that you're up, if you need anyone call for Bhodan. He should be somewhere in the house."

"Everyone else is gone?"

Solona gave a nod picking up my tray. "Even Leandra, she got some flowers this morning and left to meet someone." She left leaving me alone in my room with my thoughts. I stood once more to cross my room, only to stand before my mirror. My reflection stared back at me, a woman who I didn't recognize. Her eyes were dark and heavy, black hair matted against her head and face. Skin so pale that I could almost see each vein running through her body. She was a weedy thing, with shoulder bones that stuck out from under a much to big night gown. I locked eyes with her, and she right back. We both stared wearily at each other. A story of mute struggles from a life of anxiety in her eyes.

I touched the glass our hands meeting in untouched joining. I lent forward to stare at the floor, breaking site with the other woman. I slowly lifted my head back up, this time it was my eyes that stared back at me. This coward that was standing there moments ago wasn't me. The woman that couldn't even bare to confront herself, the one that cowered under the covers; that was not me.

The woman that I once was, that was changed into that shell, it would not be the woman I was to become.

I vow to myself, that will not be me. That man will pay for what he has caused. Because, I am not afraid, and I send a warning to the one who crossed me. I won't be left helpless, the rage inside of me, was brought on by you; and will beget your ruin.